By Alice Elizabeth Taylor
TAP Pipeline to Displace More Landowners in Albania

The controversial TAP Pipeline that passes through the heart of Albania is set to displace more people due to a recent decision.

The original project was the subject of much debate due to the fact that hundreds of Albanian’s were expropriated forcefully and without adequate compensation to make way for the pipeline. Those that were not removed from their land had to suffer the inconvenience of living on a building site for several years, as well as having the pipeline pass directly through their neighbourhoods.

The TAP Pipeline was designed to carry natural gas supplied by the Shah Deniz gas field development in Azerbaijan. Travelling through Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy the project is managed by the Shah Deniz Consortium which includes the state-owned Azeri company SOCAR- a business mired in corruption, claims of links to the bribing of European politicians, and even suggestions that they were involved in the murder of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The Azerbaijani government have also recently signed agreements with the Albanian for the ‘gasification’ of Albania.

In a post from Azerbaijani energy journalist, Leman Zeynalova, she states that “the Albanian government has approved a decision on expropriation and temporary use of immovable property affected by the project for construction of dams that prevent the river flooding.” The affected regions of the country will include Berat, Skrapar, and Fier and according to reports, owners of immovable property will receive full compensation for the one year that they will not be able to return to their properties.

Whilst media reports state that land owners will be adequately and fairly compensated, based on the projects track record of paying peanuts for uprooting peoples lives and livelihoods, it seems unlikely that this will happen. According to one report where journalists interviewed those affected:

“Most of the farmers we spoke to have received compensation for their land but were not at all satisfied, explaining that their loss of income and property was not covered. Some of them calculated for us their income and compared it to what they received. The discrepancy was enormous. And none of the farmers we interviewed were compensated for associated assets like destroyed fences, wells, pergolas or other equipment.”

Issues were also present when landowners were given new certificates where the boundaries and size of their land had changed to their detriment- no explanation was forthcoming.